Right now is bee swarming season. This happens every year between September and December, and is a natural part of the reproductive life cycle of bees.
The warmer weather and increases of nectar and pollen in the environment cause the colony to increase in population, leading to overcrowding of the hive. This overpopulation is what prompts the bees to begin to swarm and reproduce.
A swarm will usually commence during late morning to early afternoon when the weather is warm and sunny. The queen will leave the hive with, on average, half the bees from the colony. The swarm will usually come to rest in a cluster on reasonably nearby objects such as trees, shrubs and man-made objects such as signs, fences and buildings.
The swarm will usually stay clustered in the desired area from anywhere between a few hours and up to 2 days. During this time, worker bees are sent to scout for a permanent nesting site. Once a suitable site is found, the swarm is informed and they then all move over to the new site to establish a new colony.
This picture is a typical example of when a bee hive requires urgent treatment. These bees are nesting within the building cavity, and although it’s up high, these bees cause a real threat to occupants of the building. Especially for people that are allergic to bee stings.
The bees leave the hive to swarm after gorging on honey, which will sustain them during swarming stage. Because of this, and the fact that they are currently homeless, their defensive behaviour is reduced and they are generally not aggressive. (Who wants to fight after a big meal!)
That being said, it is not advisable to interfere with them, as provoking them will generally make them become increasingly defensive and aggressive. Often we hear of people trying to get rid of these clusters of bees by spraying them with their garden hoses, or by throwing things at them. In the process, they are often being stung, sometimes multiple times.
When bees are in this state, stay away and leave them alone!
If you are presented with a swarm of bees, it is extremely important that you keep away and contact a professional, who will assess the situation and take the appropriate measures. If these swarms pose a threat, they can be removed and relocated quite easily – but only by a professional! DO NOT attempt this yourself.
The swarm will eventually find a suitable location, often within the external wall cavities of a building such as a school block, unit block or a house. This picture is an example of this – a bee hive in a vent. Once established inside the cavity, the bees will aggressively defend against threats to their new hive. This is another time to leave them alone and call in a professional!
Bees nesting in a wall can be easily identified, as they will be seen flying around the area and landing on the wall, walking into the cavity via gaps such as vents, around window or door frames, weep holes in external walls and the like. If you encounter a situation like this, it is important that you contact us to take care of the problem for you.
This particular bee problem was easily solved by one of our technicians after one visit to the property. This will be the case most of the time.
Once bees have been controlled and removed by a pest manager, it is advisable to seal up the holes that the bees were using to gain access, as future bee swarms can and often do re-infest old, vacant hives the following season.
If you have a bee hive that cannot be physically removed, sealing up the holes will prevent future infestations and expenses. Once they decide to make your home their home is when they become a pest, which should be dealt with by a professional pest manager.
What to do if you are stung by bees
For any patient that is allergic to bee stings or showing signs of anaphylaxis, call 000 for an ambulance and have the patient taken immediately to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.
If you or a family member are stung by bees, follow these general first aid steps:
- Remove stings by scraping sideways with your fingernail or with the edge of a knife.
- Apply a cold pack.
- Watch for allergic reactions – breathing difficulties, rashes, itching, or swelling around the mouth or eyelids.
If an allergic reaction takes place call 000 for an ambulance.
- Observe and record pulse and breathing.
- If casualty is carrying medication for the allergy it should be taken at once.
- If conscious: help casualty to sit in a position which most relieves breathing difficulty.
- If unconscious: open and clear casualty’s airway and prepare to resuscitate if necessary.
Reference: First Aid Facts with St John First Aid
If you have bees swarming or nesting at your property and need them removed, contact Amalgamated Pest Control Sydney to take care of them for you!
Call 1300 536 435 to take care of your bee problem TODAY!